The DVD Project Part 17: Friday the 13th

June 25, 2012

To me, the Friday the 13th movie series is the definition of perfect B-horror. The best of the Friday the 13th films are the early films, which took themselves far too seriously and were inadvertently amusing.

I don’t actually know how old I was when I saw my first Friday the 13th movie, which probably wasn’t the first film, but I do know that by the time I was 16, two of my best friends and I were watching the entire series (well, the ones that had been made by that time) back to back in one night—an annual event we dubbed “Jasonfest.”*

So, it should be a given that there are some spoilers ahead. I don’t know that I should feel obligated to warn you that I let you know “who done it” in a B-horror movie made in 1980, but you’re welcome, one person who would have been angry.


Friday the 13th
Alternate Titles: The One Where Jason Didn’t Do It or The One With Kevin Bacon

The sad fact of the matter is that most people under the age of 25 right now probably know who did it in this movie because of Scream and not because of the actual film. (It’s the movie trivia question that the killer(s) ask Casey in the beginning of the film.)

So, Mrs. Vorhees is the murderer. She feels that the negligence of the camp counselors resulted in the drowning death of her son. During the final scene where she’s throwing down with our Survivor** she mentions that Jason should have been watched carefully, and that he was special. This phrasing is problematic for me in that later films construed this to mean that Jason was, in clumsy 80’s terms, a special needs child. I don’t think that’s the case; I think that Mrs. Vorhees simply meant that he was special to her. This is a good, old-fashioned revenge film.

Notable mistake: In the very beginning of the film as we zoom in on the campers sitting around and singing, the song with guitar accompaniment keeps going while we clearly see the counselor playing the guitar pause strumming to make meaningful eye contact with a fellow counselor.


Friday the 13th Part II
Alternate Title: The One With The Pillow Case

In Friday the 13th Part II we discover that Jason Vorhees didn’t actually drown. He’s been growing up in the woods, and I’ve always assumed that Jason’s mother raised him in seclusion after the accident. Our Survivor from part one dies first, and then Jason unleashes his rage on an entire campus of camp counselors training and preparing to open for the summer.

The survivor in this film, Ginny, is a psych major and spends about 30 seconds at the beginning of the film considering what Jason would be like today if he were still alive. This is pretty much the only time we see someone consider Jason human in the entire film series.

While Jason is best known for sporting his hockey mask, in the first film he wears a pillowcase over his head, and at the end is revealed to be deformed. It’s not clear if this was a result of the swimming incident, something that happened later, or if this is why his mother refers to him as “special” in the first film.

What we know: Ginny lives, the dog lives. What we don’t know: What happened to Paul?


Friday the 13th Part III
Alternate Title: The One Where He Gets the Hockey Mask

This is the first film that takes place at Crystal Lake, but not at Camp Crystal Lake.

Of all the Friday the 13th movies, this sequel has some of my favorite characters… it also has the weirdest set of characters in all of the movies. We have the usual pack of six main character teenagers, but they are inexplicably accompanied by a much older hippie couple. They also run into some trouble with a small biker gang… in the country…? I don’t even care! I love them all! I love the hippie man trying to catch popcorn in his mouth as he pops it on the stove.

This movie was made in 3-D, and I own both the 2-D and 3-D version (important to note because I bought them separately: these DVD’s were before you bought the “3-D blu-ray, regular blu-ray, digital copy” combo packs). The thing that this movie does right with 3-D that a lot of modern films don’t is that it doesn’t obsess over it; the movie wasn’t made to make 3-D film look good, 3-D was used to enhance the mood of the film. The very beginning of Part 3 involves some fluttering sheets, laundry drying on the line. On regular film the scene is still scary, but in 3-D it’s more haunting—there is something about the billowing sheets moving towards you and the sound of their fluttering that makes your pulse speed up with anticipation.

The Hockey Mask: One of the teenagers in Part III is an actor and carries a bag of props with him to the lake for the weekend. I have to wonder about Jason’s desire to cover his face. He was raised in seclusion and the only person who would have shamed him about any disfigurement would have been his own mother. Maybe it was her abuse that turned him into a bloodthirsty psychopath.

Something is afoot: At this point it’s becoming clear that Jason is resilient to the point of being supernatural. At the end of Part III we may still buy that he could recover from his injuries (although he’s taken an axe to the head) but we’re clearly starting to wander onto shaky ground.


Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter
Alternate Titles: The One With Corey Feldman and Crispin Glover or This Is the Last One, We Swear!

Again we’re at Crystal Lake but not at camp. We have a pre-Goonies Corey Feldman a pre-Back the Future Crispin Glover.

So, this is possibly the least interesting plot of all the Friday the 13th films, and that says a lot. This was, however, a really great example of how great an actor Corey Feldman was. (I know he’s not dead, but that was is intentional.) Corey plays a boy named Tommy Jarvis who makes some pretty elaborate masks for a kid.

In the End Tommy goes super batshit-crazy and stabs Jason repeatedly. He should definitely be super, extra dead at this point. Tommy and his sister, however, are definitely alive.

What we don’t know: We’re not only going to see Jason again, we’re going to see Tommy again.


Friday the 13th Part V: A New Beginning
Alternate Titles: The Other One Where Jason Didn’t Do It or We Had Our Fingers Crossed – Do You Even Know How Much Money We Make On These?

So, apparently, this movie was supposed to kick off a whole new series of films where Jason Vorhees was not the killer but murders still occurred on Friday the 13th. That didn’t work out so well and makes me wonder why successful film series insist on screwing with their own formula.

Tommy Jarvis is now at a halfway house for mentally disturbed teenagers. The first murder is committed by one of the teens, and the rest of them are committed by the murdered teen’s father in an act of revenge. Yes, we’ve come full circle here folks, and my biggest question is why a violent, mentally ill teenager was let to wield an ax in the first place.

We have three survivors in this movie – young Reggie, Pam, and Tommy. The end dream sequence is Tommy’s in this sequel and the film ends with Tommy donning the hockey mask and taking up a machete.

What we don’t know: Will Tommy Jarvis now become the killer? It would certainly help the whole supernatural/unkillable Jason issue that we’ve run into.


Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
Alternate Titles: Just Kidding, He’s Totally Not Dead or The One With Horshack

Tommy Jarvis and his friend Hawes break out of the mental institution to … uh… dig up Jason Vorhees? So, really, they’re rightly living in a mental institution. I think we can rest the case on that. Especially when Tommy, once again, loses it and stabs (the very dead) Jason over and over again with a long metal fence post. (Oddly the fact that Tommy was kitted out as Jason at the end of the last movie has been dropped.)

Just then, a thunder storm begins! And the metal post serves as a lightning rod. And now we have FrankenJason.

FrankenJason engages in a killing spree, and Tommy once again lives. The same cannot be said for Horshack. (Fine, Ron Palillo, if you must.)

You May Have Noticed: This is the only movie where there are children at camp Crystal Lake.


Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood
Alternate Titles: Daddy Issues or Jason Meets Carrie

Guys, I just–I can’t. This is the second worst of the series. Telekinesis. I… it’s awful. AWFUL. They had a good fresh start with the last movie, and then they blew it by bringing in a girl with telekinetic superpowers. Gross.

Hey Is That…: Yes, that’s Terry Kiser – Bernie from Weekend at Bernie’s playing the doctor. Terry Kiser never gets to play a good guy, never.


Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan
Alternate Titles: This Time It’s Personal or Start Spreading the Ooze

Jason leaves New Jersey for the first time in this movie to travel to New York to teach us lessons about drug use, toxic waste, and gang violence. Honestly, this movie is trying to send so many strong messages about how the world was falling apart in 1989 that I don’t know where to start. In 1989 we were all very concerned about the violence in New York City, and the environment was becoming a thing again. The 80’s boom of corporate greed and yuppie culture was giving way to the new 60’s that were the 90’s.

Continuity Issue: At the end of the film, when New York’s sewer system fills with toxic waste and dissolves Jason to a pile of mushy goo, the ghost of the boy left behind doesn’t have any of the deformities that are displayed in flashbacks or photos of the boy Jason in previous films. Also? FrankenJason is one hell of a swimmer for a kid that “drowned.”


Jason Goes to Hell
Alternate Title: We’re Never Going to Stop Making These Movies

So, if you weren’t a fan of the first few films of this series and just tuned in for the 1993 sequel you probably loved it. FBI agents! VooDoo! It’s all about a family curse! For those of us who love slasher films? Not so much.

The highlight of this sequel for me is Leslie Jordan as a rough-around-the-edges café co-owner. I love Leslie Jordan and seeing him in a wife beater and a backwards baseball cap can make any day brighter.

Since they send Jason to hell in this film you would think it was the last, but you’d be wrong.

Other notable television stars: Erin Grey (from Silver Spoons) and Allison Smith (from Kate & Allie).
Nice touch: At the end of the film, Freddy Krueger’s claw hand comes up and pulls Jason’s hockey mask down to hell.


Jason X
Alternate Titles: Jason in Spaaaaaaaace! or Jason Jumps the Shark

This movie was released in 2002, starts in 2008 with the capture of Jason Vorhees and then moves to 2455 where we find out that in 2010 the government sent Jason into space… cryogenically frozen. Still with me?

He kills people on a space ship and then he falls to Earth 2 as a shooting star… and lands in a lake… where two teenagers go to investigate.

This movie would have been much better as a spoof. This is the worst film of the entire series.


Friday the 13th 2009

Let me be clear: I do not want a fleshed out back story for my slasher. If I can’t figure out that Jason is avenging his mother’s death, I don’t deserve to have it spelled out for me. Getting it?

The movie is okay but it doesn’t capture the magic of the first films in the original series. I’m not sure why anyone felt a reboot was necessary. We’ll get further into this when we talk about Halloween and again with Nightmare on Elm Street. We’ll also address Freddy vs. Jason when I get around to spoiling the entire Nightmare franchise for you.

Official opinion: Meh. (Even with Real Dean, aka Jared Padalecki.)

*Somewhere in my mother’s house there is a scrapbook from high school. In that scrapbook there are two sheets of paper scrawled with marker in Ben’s handwriting listing “Methods o’ Murder.”
**Because there is always a Survivor, and it’s usually a woman.

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